The 11 Best Sandwich Cities In The US

Sandwiches: From the most basic turkey and mayo on white bread to the most elaborate Dagwood-esque tower, there's something undeniably comforting about the basic formula of fillings held securely between slices of bread. They're portable and tasty and can be an easy meal, so it's no wonder they're incredibly popular. That Earl of Sandwich guy knew what was up.

America is a patchwork quilt of different regional sandwich styles, and most major American cities have something special to offer to the world of sandwiches. Sure, you can get something called a cheesesteak just about anywhere now, but have you really tasted one until you've been to Philadelphia? There's something magical about eating a sandwich in the place it was created. When compiling our list of America's best sandwich cities, we paid special attention to towns that had their own long-standing traditions of unique local sandwiches. A bite of one of these sandwiches brings you in touch with decades (and sometimes centuries) of history. But of course, history isn't everything. We also focused on cities that are serving the best sandwiches you can get in the U.S. right now.

1. New York

Although it's somewhat entertaining to think of the emails we'd get from irate New Yorkers if we left the Big Apple off of this list, we can't in good conscience deny New York's sandwich supremacy. When you think of iconic New York sandwiches, the first ones that spring to mind have to be Jewish deli classics like the mile-high pastrami sandwiches from Katz's Delicatessen, which has been slinging house-cured meats on the Lower East Side for over a century.

But famous tourist destinations like Katz's are only a small part of what makes New York such an incredible sandwich city. The sandwiches that really power the city come from the bodegas that feed New York's hungry working people. One bodega classic is the chopped cheese, a delicious mixture of chopped ground beef, cheese, and veggie toppings served on a roll (via The New York Times). We also can't write about New York bodega sandwiches without shouting out the bacon, egg, and cheese, the staple that serves as breakfast for many New Yorkers every day.

While bodega sandwich culture hasn't historically received as much media attention as some of New York's other culinary offerings, things have changed a bit in recent years. Most famously, Rahim Mohamed of Red Hook Food Corp in Brooklyn has become a Tiktok star for making outrageous "Ocky Way" sandwiches using common bodega items like Pop-Tarts, Jamaican beef patties, and candy (via the New York Post).

2. Los Angeles

While the City of Angels will probably never earn as much sandwich cred as New York, America's second-largest metropolis has plenty of goodness to offer between slices of bread. For one, its Jewish deli options are almost as strong as New York's. Canter's can be seen as LA's answer to Katz's, as it's been serving pastrami sandwiches, lox, and matzo ball soup to hungry Angelenos since 1931.

LA can also lay claim to inventing one of America's greatest sandwiches: the French dip. It might have been invented at Philippe's, or at Cole's, but there's no denying that this sandwich is a Los Angeles classic (via Philippe's). Tender slices of roast beef are tucked into a roll and served with a savory au jus made with the drippings from the beef to create a piece of melt-in-your-mouth heaven.

We all know that LA is a taco town, but Mexican ingredients taste just as good when stuffed into a big fluffy bun to make a torta instead. LA's tortas rival its tacos for deliciousness, and you can find tortas from many different Mexican regional cuisines in the LA area. We also can't forget breakfast: Los Angeles is where the saucily named Eggslut got its start. The upscale egg sandwich restaurant began as a food truck but has since expanded into an international empire (via Ktchnrebel).

3. Philadelphia

If we were to measure the best sandwich cities by how many iconic sandwiches they created, Philadelphia would come in first place. Everyone knows about cheesesteaks — the glorious grease bombs made with shaved ribeye, melted cheese, and onions served in a long Italian roll (via Visit Philadelphia). But cheesesteaks are just scratching the surface of Philly's sandwich excellence.

While many people think of the cheesesteak as Philly's signature dish, it's actually one of the three sandwiches on Philly's Mount Rushmore. There's also the hoagie, which is superficially similar to the more commonly known sub. However, Philadelphia's hoagies distinguish themselves because of their Italian roots, piling deli meats like prosciutto, capicola, and salami high on freshly baked rolls. If you've ever met someone from the Philly area, they probably won't shut up about Wawa, and that's because this gas station chain serves surprisingly excellent hoagies. The last of the famous Philadelphia sandwiches is the roast pork sandwich, another Italian-American creation. As its name suggests, a Philly roast pork is made with pork that's roasted with Italian seasonings and sliced thin. The traditional accompaniments are provolone cheese and sautéed greens.

While these three sandwiches are Philly's foremost contributions to the sandwich arts, we're just scratching the surface of the city's sandwich culture. Another notable, though more under-the-radar, Philly sandwich is the Schmitter, which is made with cotto salami, beef, onions, cheese, and special sauce, according to the Sandwich Tribunal.

4. Buffalo

Buffalo, New York, might not get as much love from the food world as New York City does, but it proves that the western part of the state has plenty of deliciousness to offer as well. The most notable sandwich from Buffalo is beef on weck. "I know what beef is," you may be asking, "but what is weck?" Weck is short for kummelweck, which is a type of roll of German origin that's topped with salt and caraway seeds. To make a beef on weck, you take one of these special rolls and fill it with a generous amount of succulent roast beef, then smear on some nose-clearing horseradish sauce (via Niagara Frontier Publications).

The beef on weck tradition runs strong in Buffalo. In the city, you can find multiple restaurants serving the dish that are over 100, or in some cases 150, years old. But it's not the only traditional sandwich in the area. Per SightDoing, you'll also find plenty of chicken finger subs, sometimes taken to a decadent extreme with the addition of cheesesteak meat, which turns them into Stingers. Fried bologna, with thick-cut slices of meat griddled until crisp, is also a staple in Buffalonian restaurants both humble and fancy.

5. New Orleans

New Orleans is a city known for its excellent food culture, so it's no surprise that the Big Easy's sandwiches are just as good as the city's other food. The most famous New Orleans sandwich is the po-boy (poor boy), a hefty, meal-sized sandwich that, legend has it, was invented to feed striking workers in the early 20th century (though, like so many other legends, that story has some serious holes, per You can think of a po-boy as New Orleans' answer to a sub or a hoagie. It's a long French bread roll stuffed with the topping of your choice — fried seafood or roast beef with gravy are popular options — and then served "dressed" with shredded lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and hot sauce (via New Orleans).

If you like your sandwiches round rather than long, you'll prefer New Orleans' other iconic sandwich: the muffaletta. Much like Philadelphia's hoagie, this is a creation of Italian immigrants made with a variety of Italian deli meats. The two things that set it apart are the large, round, sesame-seeded roll it's served on and its olive salad topping. This condiment is a punchy mixture of chopped olives, pickled vegetables, and garlic that adds zing to a good muffaletta.

If you're looking to move beyond the two standard New Orleans sandwiches, consider making a trip to Casamento's. There, you'll find incredible fried seafood served on toasted slices of white bread. The restaurant's classic oyster loaf sandwiches are a must-try.

6. Miami

Tampa Bay has long been credited with the invention of the Cuban sandwich (though, as with the history of the po-boy, the truth might be more complicated, according to the Tampa Bay Times). However, if we're going to pick an overall sandwich city in Florida, we have to choose Miami. While folks from Tampa Bay might say that Miami does Cuban sandwiches wrong by not putting salami in them, we think Miami's take on the classic (roast pork, ham, cheese, mustard, and pickle), is darn tasty (via Today). If you want a real taste of history, get your Cubano at Versailles, the self-proclaimed "World's Most Famous Cuban Restaurant" that has been selling delicious food since 1971.

Beyond the classic Cubano, another Cuban sandwich that is a staple in Miami is the frita. A frita is basically a burger with Cuban flavor. According to Burger Beast, fritas are made with a seasoned beef or pork patty cooked smashburger style and served on a Cuban bun with fried julienned potatoes, ketchup, and raw onions. While they began as street food in Cuba, fritas turned into quintessential Cuban cafeteria fare in Miami. Another sandwich you might want to try while in sunny South Florida is the croqueta sandwich or croqueta preparada, which you can find on the menus of both Versailles and the newer sandwich spot Sanguich de Miami. It basically swaps out the roast pork in a Cubano for fried croquettes, offering a different spin on the formula.

7. Portland

While Portland may not necessarily have traditional local sandwich styles like most of the other cities on this list, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In the absence of tradition, you're free to invent whatever you want. Nowhere is that more true than at Lardo, the food truck turned local sandwich micro-chain that does truly wild things with its sandwiches (via Condé Nast Traveler).

Although Lardo is named after a type of charcuterie, you'll find many freshly cooked meats to drool over on the restaurant's menu. At the time of writing, Lardo was featuring a duck confit banh mi, a pho-inspired French dip, and a Korean pork sandwich with kimchi, among many other delights.

If you're looking for a fried chicken sandwich in Portland, it's hard to go wrong with Jojo, which also started as a food truck before blowing up on Instagram, per PDX Monthly. There you'll find many creative spins on chicken sandwiches, including the Vampires Hate Her, which is (of course) loaded up with many types of garlic.

8. Detroit

Is a hot dog a sandwich? The debate rages on. While we try to stay uncontroversial here, we'd say that a food that consists of meat with toppings encased in bread has a decent right to be called a sandwich. If you consider a hot dog to be a sandwich, then the Coney Island dog is probably Detroit's most famous sandwich. Although named after New York's Coney Island, this special hot dog is a Michigan product through and through. A true Coney Island dog is made with a natural-casing beef frank and topped with mustard, onions, and special Coney Island chili that must never contain beans.

But there's a lot more to Detroit's meat-on-bread game than just Coney dogs. At The Food Exchange Restaurant, the Big Baby Burger is a local classic (Is a burger a sandwich? Refer to our argument above). The Big Baby Burger is a monstrous creation made with a massive beef patty, corned beef, two kinds of cheese, and classic burger toppings (via Deadline Detroit).

If you'd like your sandwich served on a pita rather than a bun, the Detroit area has you covered. Per WXYZ Detroit, the city is known for its amazing shawarma spots. Although often eaten as drunk food late at night, these fluffy pitas stuffed with chunks of spit-roasted chicken topped with veggies and smothered in garlic sauce can be enjoyed at any time of day.

9. Pittsburgh

When Pittsburgh shows up on a list of sandwiches, you know it's for one thing: the Primanti Bros. sandwich. The restaurant chain's menu gives you the option to choose a variety of meats, but per Pennsylvania Center For The Book, the classic formula is steak, egg, coleslaw, tomato, cheese, and most importantly, french fries. Yes, that's right — in Pittsburgh, the fries go in the sandwich, not next to it.

The story goes that the famous Pittsburgh french fry sandwich was born when a trucker brought in a load of potatoes that he was worried had gotten frozen in transit. A cook at Primanti Bros. fried the potatoes to test them out and then served them on a sandwich to a customer who asked for them. While that story may be apocryphal, it is undoubtedly true that the sandwich began its life as a way to feed manual laborers who had to eat lunch on the go. The towering sandwiches served as entire hand-held meals.

While Primanti Bros. is synonymous with Pittsburgh sandwiches now, shockingly, there were a few years when you could not buy one of these sandwiches in the Steel City. The Primanti family shut down the business in the early '70s, but fortunately, it was bought and re-opened with the same menu in 1975.

10. Chicago

We continue our tour of the Midwest with Chicago. If you've been watching "The Bear," you know what we're going to talk about: Chicago Italian beef. Although this sandwich is sold by countless restaurants and stalls all over the Windy City, it follows a fairly rigid formula: roast beef cooked in stock with Italian seasonings, served on an Italian roll, and topped with either sweet bell peppers or hot giardiniera. Much like a French dip, Italian beef sandwiches are served with au jus, but in this case, the bread is actually dunked into the savory, beefy broth. You can select how wet you'd like your sandwich to be when you order (via Thrillist).

Chicago is also home to the jibarito, the only breadless sandwich on this list. Although they're featured in Puerto Rican restaurants, jibaritos were invented in Chicago. According to NBC Chicago, instead of bread, the fillings of a jibarito are contained by two huge pieces of fried plantain. The plantains are par-fried, smashed in a tortilla press, then fried crisp in order to provide a sturdy base for this sandwich.

11. Baltimore

Pit beef sandwiches are another classic regional sandwich that you may be familiar with from TV — in this case, "The Wire" (via USA Today). Per The Baltimore Sun, pit beef stands sprang up along the roadside in East Baltimore sometime in the mid-20th century. It's a simple dish at heart: thinly sliced beef served on a bun or white bread. You can top it with horseradish or other sauces if you want to, but the beef is the star. There is one essential rule: The beef must be cooked over charcoal. Without that smoky flavor, it's not pit beef.

Another Baltimore treat you may have first encountered in "The Wire" is lake trout. As the characters in the show mention, this fried fish isn't trout, and it doesn't come from a lake (via As Eaten On TV). As The New York Times explains, lake trout is actually whiting, which to add to the confusion, is properly known as silver hake, and it comes from the Atlantic Ocean. In any case, the fish is fried until very crispy, usually with some bones left in, and served either as a sandwich or with some white bread on the side. It's crunchy, greasy, and wonderful.

Of course, Maryland is famous for blue crab, and Baltimore restaurants are well-known for serving excellent crab cakes. Several of the best crab cake restaurants in Baltimore serve delicious crab cake sandwiches that give you the taste of freshly caught seafood in a portable form.